Gov reveals DRS details

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Research revealed: more information on the recycling initiative were outlined in a consultation response (image: Getty/Paper Boat Creative)
Research revealed: more information on the recycling initiative were outlined in a consultation response (image: Getty/Paper Boat Creative)

Related tags Legislation Social responsibility Hygiene + cleaning

Environment minister Rebecca Pow has today (Friday 20 January) announced new plans for the Deposit Return Scheme to reduce litter and plastic pollution.

Details of the new scheme were set out in a consultation response, which found 83% of respondents were in favour of the new system, including reverse vending machines to be introduced at venues selling single-use drinks containers from 2025.

The machines will take small deposits for the drinks containers, with customers receiving their deposit back after returning bottles and cans.

Moving ahead

Pow said: “We want to support people who want to do the right thing to help stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers.

“That is why we are moving ahead using our powers from our landmark Environment Act to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, providing a simple and effective system across the country that helps people reduce litter and recycle more easily.”

Additionally, packaging producers will be responsible for the cost of recycling or disposing of their products from 2025 according to the new plans.

The scheme aims to ensure 85% fewer drinks containers are discarded over the next three years, with deposit returns schemes seeing recycling rates in Germany, Norway and Finland above 90%.

Comparatively, the UK recycling rate is currently 70% with an estimated 14bn plastic drinks bottles and 9bn drinks cans littered or condemned to landfill each year, according to the consultation.

On the announcement of the scheme, trade body UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Sustainability is a key focus for hospitality and, as part of the sector’s goal to reach net zero by 2040, venues have already made great strides to reduce plastic use and maximise recycling.

“As we have seen in Scotland, the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme is a colossal and complex undertaking. Lessons must be learned from that scheme, in particular the need for ample time to bring businesses along on the journey to ensure it is workable. The Government’s planned implementation in 2025 is an encouraging start.

“There will be nuances between sectors that need factoring into the scheme’s design. For example, the operation of an online takeback scheme is simply not practical for hospitality. We would encourage the Government to provide an exemption for this, like in Scotland.

Recycling rate

“In order for this scheme to be a success, it needs to be designed in tandem with industry and it’s positive that the Government has made that commitment today.”

Government focus will now turn to bringing forward legislation and the appointment process of the Deposit Management Organisation, an independent and industry-led organisation that will be introduced to run the scheme and set the amount for the refundable deposit on reverse vending machines.

Moreover, the Government pledged to work with the devolved administrations and industry to press ahead with the delivery of the new scheme and in setting up infrastructure and labelling amends.

This follows last week’s announcement a ban on single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls and cutlery ​would be introduced in England from October 2023.

British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said: “By kick-starting the UK’s circular economy for drinks containers, the Deposit Return Scheme will help consumers play their part in ensuring the containers they buy are returned for recycling. We look forward to working with officials to help guarantee its success.”

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